Brian May on why Adam Lambert works in Queen: ‘If he was a sh*t, it wouldn’t have been fun’

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As Queen prepares for a streaming New Year’s Eve concert, Brian May is talking about why their on-going collaboration with Adam Lambert — now five years old — works so well. Part of it is Lambert’s on-stage presence, part of it is his passion for the music, and part of it is his ability to mesh with remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and May.

“It’s not, in any sense, a copy,” May tells Nicky Horne of the Queen + Adam Lambert shows. “And it’s a joy for me to explore this material with Adam. The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is that he’s a nice guy. If he was a shit, it wouldn’t have been fun — and it wouldn’t have happened. [Laughs.] He’s a good guy, he’s fun, he entertaining and he’s open to ideas. And he bring lots of ideas in, so when we were putting this setlist together he didn’t just go, ‘OK, I’ll do what you want.’ He said, ‘How about we try this? ‘Let’s do this.’ So, we had a real proper birth process. It’s great. I just feel very grateful, Nicky.”

Queen has worked with a variety of replacements since Freddie Mercury’s 1991 death of AIDS-related causes, most notably Paul Rodgers. But Adam Lambert is becoming their longest-tenured collaborator. Queen’s remaining co-founder, John Deacon, retired more than 15 years ago.

“After we lost Freddie, there was a long period for Roger and I where we didn’t want to talk about it,” May admits. “That was a part of our lives that we had done, and now we were individuals. But it comes back, because people actually do want to hear the music. We’re still able to play, and we can bring Freddie back and we can bring John back — even though neither of them are with us on stage, technically. Spiritually, they are.”

Queen + Adam Lambert perform Thursday (Dec. 31, 2014) at London’s 1,800-seat Westminster Central Hall. The show will be broadcast live beginning at 6:15 p.m. Eastern — 45 minutes prior midnight in the UK — via BBC Music. They’ve released the advance track streaming above to promote the show, featuring Adam Lambert’s interpretation of “I Was Born to Love You.” The song was earlier featured on both Freddie Mercury’s 1985 album Mr. Bad Guy, and on Queen’s Made in Heaven, an odds-and-ends album that followed a decade later.

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